Discovering the Secret and Stunning Tonsai Beach

Tonsai Beach – Rock Climbing, Chilling, Pure Bliss♡
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Tonsai Beach
Last week I spent my days swimming in the salty Andaman Sea. I relaxed on the beaches of Tonsai, Railay, Phra Nang, Koh Hong, Koh Phi Phi, and Mosquito Island.

 On the bus to Ao Nang, I met a guy from Portugal who became a good friend over the next few days, as well as a couple from Spain. Before reaching Railay we stopped at Tonsai beach. A woman suggested we check out Tonsai as it was more suited for backpackers than Railay. Pulling to shore I could tell the vibe was chill, laid back and exactly what I was looking for. We hopped off and headed into the tiny little town of Tonsai, about a 5 minute walk from the beach. We got our rooms at Paasook Resort for 200baht a night. We found a room with two twin beds, mosquito nets, a fan, one plug for electricity and a decent bathroom for 200baht. That’s 100baht each (3 USD)! It was a great deal, clean sheets, clean bathroom, which is all I require when I am at the ocean. Electricity and wifi are only on from about 6pm to 6am through most of the beach so one plug in was not a big deal. We dropped our stuff and headed to the beach, admiring the rock climbers along the way. Little had I realized how prestige of an area this was for rock climbers of all skill levels. I met a few people from Seattle on the smallest stretch of beach which was pretty neat. We swam, and took the short walk over to Railay Beach. The four of us had decided we wanted to do an island tour. You can access almost all the islands in the Krabi Province with day trips on longtail boats. The more people the cheaper the price. We met 3 other girls from Spain to join us and haggled our way to paying around 500Baht a person- the destination: Koh Hong!

The tip of the Longtail, you get used to this view

 

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Railay Beach: Small, beautiful, excellent for families and those who dig a bit more comfort than the hippy sister of Tonsai. The walking street was small, there is a west and an east Railay. I believe the west was the cheaper side, this was the side we wandered on for a bit. Excellent for sunset, we enjoyed an overpriced dinner while watching the sun fall. Later in the week I headed to the east side for rock climbing with our guide, but that was about all the exploring I did on the east side.

Sunset from Railay beach


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Tonsai Beach: I fell in love all over again. What a beautiful hidden gem, a lost paradise, that few venture out to find. It is a total hippy town. All the locals are smiley and down to earth. Everyone rock climbs, whether your beginning or advanced, there is something for everyone. The place to hang when the moon rises is the Chill Out Bar. With two storey wooden platforms to relax and meet new friends on, a boat to sit in, a tight rope to walk on, and small kiosks offering fresh coconuts, fruit shakes, western and thai foods. They even have a tight rope to check your equilibrium balance. One night they played live reggae and we danced and laughed the night away. The other nights they were always spinning good jams with an assortment of genres. Of course there are other hangout places, all with a similar laid back vibe and rad decorations. I felt like I was in the lost boys land. Sadly, some construction going on and what looks to be a large guesthouse/resort going in which will increase the population that comes to Tonsai. I highly suggest checking the place out before the impact of tourists ruins the hidden hippy gem.

 

Finding Balance in Tonsai
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On the first night we spent the evening chatting and laughing at the Chill Out Bar, my friends from Spain barely spoke/understood English. (I am refraining from using names to be respectful) The girl could speak, and the guy could understand, so between the 3 of us it was a hell of a conversation. I had so much fun with them, learning Spanish, teaching English and figuring out how to explain things so they could understand. At one point they asked why I don’t drink. By this time I am incredibly used to that question. Not everyone that asks is rather interested in my life story so I try to be brief. But trying to explain “recovery” “clean” “abstinent” was quiet funny. Eventually they began to understand, I shared that I was an addict and today I choose not use any substances. It took about an hour or so of questions and answers for them to really understand. It was so empowering to share my experience but demonstrate a person who is still living life not hiding in fear. I eventually asked about them, jobs, life etc. They both kind of looked at each other, and then at me. The response: “were cops” followed. HAHA! I laughed and laughed. What a coincidence?! I won’t go into to much detail, but lets just say their roles in the field hit very close to home. I was so amused. So excited. Here we were, 3 people from different sides of the world. Completely different backgrounds, opposite ends of the stick, hanging out having a wonderful time. The girl described to me the words; positive, good, nice, happy- and asked what word that would be in English. She said in Spanish it would be simpatico. I assured her it would just be all of those words. She was referring to me, my heart smiled. She taught me “Hoy ha sido perfecto!” and “La luna esta sonriendo!” Translating to “The day has been perfect!” and “The moon is smiling.” The guy insisted on teaching me how to Flaminco after the night carried on. Quiet entertaining. Just the few days I spent with this couple, as well as my friend from Portugal has made a huge impact in my life. I will never forget that couple. When I make my way to Spain they are first on the list to visit!
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The gorgeous Koh Hong Beach
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On day two, we headed to Koh Hong Island- A national marine park you have to pay a 200baht fee to get on the island. We took a longtail boat that picked us up on the shore of Tonsai at 8am. It takes about 45 minutes, but the morning was gorgeous and the scenery was breathtaking for the ride. We relaxed on the pristine white sand beach and attempted some snorkeling in the emerald colored waters. Unfortunately the snorkeling was terrible, visibility was minimal. But relaxing on the beach, soaking up the sun and searching for coral and sea shells was brilliant. Our ‘captain’ (of the boat) took us to the Lagoon just around the corner from the beach that changes colors from low tide to high tide. When it fills with water the color turns from a dark green to a milky turquoise.

Before the tide rolls in the Lagoon

Departing from the lagoon that afternoon- Feeling like a pirate for the day-
Are you there Captain Jack Sparrow?

 Koh Hong was gorgeous, but the beach quickly fills with tourists, if you don’t mind then its a great place to lay and relax. Later in the day we had our boat driver take us to Phra Nang Beach which is about a 10 minute boat ride from Tonsai.

The left end of Phra Nang

Look at that water! While swimming under the stunning cliffs

 It has been named one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. It is framed by gorgeous rock formations and caves to snorkel and climb through. Above you can look up and see the daring climbers dangling from the sheer cliffs. The water is excellent for swimming, and longtail boat “restaurants” lineup ready to serve you the next ‘Satay Gai’ or fruit shake. During a swim the clouds rolled in and thunder and torrential rain began.

Best way to clear off a beach while embracing a fantastic stormy swim. The rain came and went in about 30 minutes and the sun came back to shine.

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The best guide a girl could ask for!
That evening my friend and I had been talking about rock climbing, and I knew that if we didn’t book it together I would back out of it. So we asked around to other climbers, an aussie guy suggested we go through Shadow Climbing shop located on the main strip near Chill Out Bar. This was an excellent decision and a great price, 800baht for all gear and a 4 hour climb with a guide. There is another place down the way that advertises much more, they have free climbing/cliff jumping. But I loved the experience I had with Shadow. Our guides name was Yao and we quickly became friends as my life was in his hands for the next 4 hours. He took us to the beginner rock in Railay and there began 4 hours I will never forget. I watched as others gave it their all using muscle and mind to get higher and higher. Finding balance on tiny little edges for the tips of your fingers and your toes. My palms are sweaty just typing this as I reflect on the climb. As I ascended I tried to have no fear.
  •  At the first stuck point, I looked back to receive directions, and began to cry… I was high (not really that high, but to me I was high) and I was also actually rock climbing. Hell yeah! Yao and my friend told me to relax a minute, trust the rope and allow myself to just hang. I could type an essay for the feelings I felt in that first climb. I was scared, I hate heights, I love feeling accomplished, I love facing fears, this is stupid, who does this? I am literally balancing on the edge, I hope my butt looks good, and so on and so forth. I reached the first ring and tapped it, sweating to death, my arms were sore, and I was shaking so bad I could barely manage to snap a photo from the top. 3 more hours of this?! Haha it was great. I climbed, I got pissed, I got frustrated, I overcame, I continued to climb. I think we reached between 15 and 20 meters at the highest. I touched 2 out of the 4 rings. I became addicted quickly. 

If my strength would have allowed I would have continued but my arms were jello. There were moments I said I was done, I wanted down, and Yao just left me there to hang, he wouldn’t let me give up. I cussed, and shook my head, and climbed the damn rock anyways.

The view from the top of the rock.
I learned that like life, sometimes you have to take a different path


Sometimes you have to set the goal so high its at the tip of your fingers yet you just can’t grasp it. In those times we push ourselves harder, we strive to get better. Balance is the key to life, and climbing a giant rock. Your standing on your toes, balancing your entire body on a ledge that’s smaller than my big toe. Using fingertips to inch just a bit higher. Patience, drive, balance, trust, letting go of how I think I am supposed to do it and listening to those who have done it. Living on the edge where one wrong move can lead to dangling 15 meters high on a rope. But the view from the top, the feeling of accomplishment, the cheers from the bottom fill you with the craving for more.  I got high on a rock and I still have my clean date 😉 (sorry mom). It was an incredible experience that has me coming back for more. Our guide, my friend, and myself were all proud of me for pushing through the fears and difficulties. My friend even said, “you cried, and then climbed up anyways”!! It felt so good to have someone I barely knew be so proud of me, as well as being proud of myself. I am determined to prove to myself that there is not anything I cannot do. 



 

There are moments, places, sometimes people that you run into and remind you of the magic of traveling. 
Blissfully Yours,
Alicia
P.S Once I recieve photos from the climb I will post them to my blog. Also Part 2: Koh Phi Phi will be on its way shortly 
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